Shunning the Eurocentrism that colours much mainstream scholarship, TWAIL has centred in international legal scholarship the views of peoples historically marginalised in the imperial-colonial process. In a single generation, its interventions have shifted perceptions of international law across the academy, forcing scholars to account for the partialities of our purportedly universal international legal regime. Yet, despite embracing iconoclasm and critique, TWAIL is also denoted by a formalist streak. Many of its scholars are committed to the regime, towing an orthodox line that appears counter-intuitive, even inconsistent. In this article, I use WEB Du Bois’ concept of double-consciousness to explain the tension that grips TWAIL scholars. The formerly colonised are caught in a loop: they aspire to belong to the academy—and to the world—yet are cognisant of the discord between their emancipatory hope for international law and its predatory reality. Du Bois offers a way forward, beseeching the colonised to fuse their clashing worldviews to produce a radical consciousness capable of advancing the cause of human freedom.


Journal Articles

Abi-Saab, Georges. “The Third World Intellectual in Praxis: Confrontation, Participation, or Operation behind Enemy Lines?.” Third World Quarterly 37, no. 11 (November 2016): 1957–71. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2016.1212653.

Anghie, Antony and Bhupinder S. Chimni. “Third World Approaches to International Law and Individual Responsibility in Internal Conflicts.” Chinese Journal of International Law 2, no. 1 (2003): 77–103.

Appiagyei-Atua, Kwadwo. “Ethical Dimensions of Third-World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL): A Critical Review.” African Journal of Legal Studies 8, no. 3–4 (29 April 2015): 209–35. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/17087384-12342063.

Arthurs, Harry W. “Law and Learning in an Era of Globalization.” German Law Journal 10, no. 07 (2009): 629.

Attar, Mohsen al. “Must International Legal Pedagogy Remain Eurocentric?.” Asian Journal of International Law 11, no. 1 (January 2021): 180. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/S2044251321000138.

Attar, Mohsen al. “Subverting Eurocentric Epistemology: The Value of Nonsense When Designing Counterfactual.” Contingency in International Law: On The Possibilities of Different Legal Histories ed. Venzke, Ingo and Kevin Heller. (Oxford University Press, 2021)

Attar, Mohsen al. “Reframing the “Universality” of International Law in a Globalizing World’.” McGill Law Journal 59, no. 1 (2013): 95. doi: https://doi.org/10.7202/1018986ar.

Attar, Mohsen al. “Subverting Racism in / through International Law Scholarship.” Opinio Juris (blog). Accessed 3 March 2021. http://opiniojuris.org/2021/03/03/subverting-racism-in-international-law-scholarship/.

Attar, Mohsen Al and Rosalie Miller. “Towards an Emancipatory International Law: The Bolivarian Reconstruction.” Third World Quarterly 31, no. 3 (April 2010): 347–63. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2010.488469.

Attar, Mohsen al. “TWAIL: A Paradox within a Paradox.” International Community Law Review 22 (2020): 16.

Bhandar, Brenna. “Theft in Broad Daylight: Racism and Neoliberal Legality.” Law and Critique 32, no. 3 (November 2021): 288. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10978-021-09308-9.

Blackett, Adelle. “Follow the Drinking Gourd: Our Road to Teaching Critical Race Theory and Slavery and the Law, Contemplatively, at McGill.” McGill Law Journal 62, no. 4 (2017): 1251. doi: https://doi.org/10.7202/1043165ar.

Bradley, Anna-Spain. “International Law’s Racism Problem.” Opinio Juris (blog). Accessed 4 September 2019. http://opiniojuris.org/2019/09/04/international-laws-racism-problem/.

Boehme, Franziska. “Reactive Remembrance: The Political Struggle over Apologies and Reparations between Germany and Namibia for the Herero Genocide.” Journal of Human Rights 19, no. 2 (14 March 2020): 238–55. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/14754835.2020.1727729.

Burgis-Kasthala, Michelle. “Scholarship as Dialogue? TWAIL and the Politics of Methodology.” Journal of International Criminal Justice 14, no. 4 (2016): 921–38. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/jicj/mqw044.

Chimni, Bhupinder S. “Asian Civilizations and International Law: Some Reflections.” Asian Journal of International Law 1, no. 1 (2011): 39–42.

Cole, Rowland J. V. “Africa’s Approach to International Law: Aspects of the Political and Economic Denominators.” African Yearbook of International Law Online / Annuaire Africain de Droit International Online 18, no. 1 (2010): 287–310. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/22116176-01801011.

Coleman, Clare Keefe. “Teaching the Torture Memos: Making Decisions under Conditions of Uncertainty.” Journal of Legal Education 62 (2012): 81.

Drake, Philip James. “Beyond the Bounds of Formalism: Social Justice and Legal Education.” UK, Huddersfield, 2020.

Fagbayibo, Babatunde. “Some Thoughts on Centring Pan-African Epistemic in the Teaching of Public International Law in African Universities.” International Community Law Review 21, no. 2 (2019): 170–89. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/18719732-12341397.

Fakhri, Michael. “Third World Sovereignty, Indigenous Sovereignty, and Food Sovereignty: Living with Sovereignty despite the Map.” Transnational Legal Theory 9, no. 3–4 (2018): 218–53.

Fraser, Nancy. “Reframing Justice in a Globalising World.” New Left Review 36 (2005): 69.

Fukurai, Hiroshi. “Fourth World Approaches to International Law (FWAIL) and Asia’s Indigenous Struggles and Quests for Recognition under International Law.” Asian Journal of Law and Society 5, no. 1 (May 2018): 221–31. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/als.2018.10.

Fukurai, Hiroshi. “Original Nation Approaches to “Inter- National” Law (ONAIL): Decoupling of the Nation and the State and the Search for New Legal Orders.” Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 26, no. 1 (2019): 199–262.

Galindo, George. “Splitting TWAIL.” Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice 33, no. 3 (2016): 37–56;

Gathii, James Thuo. “The Promise of International Law: A Third World View.” American University International Law Review 36, no. 3 (2021): 102.

Gathii, James Thuo. “TWAIL: A Brief History of Its Origins, Its Decentralized Network, and a Tentative Bibliography.” Trade, Law and Development 3, no. 1 (2011): 26–64.

Gathii, James T. “Writing Race and Identity in a Global Context: What CRT and TWAIL Can Learn From Each Other.” UCLA Law Review, no. 67 (2020).

Gumede, Vusi. “Leadership for Africa’s Development: Revisiting Indigenous African Leadership and Setting the Agenda for Political Leadership.” Journal of Black Studies 48, no. 1 (2017): 74–90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0021934716678392.

John, Bagu, Kajit. “Ideological Refuge v Jurisprudence of Insurgency: Cultural, Relativism and Universalism in the Human Rights Discourse.” Warwick Student Law Review 1 (2011): 1–18.

Maguire, Amy. “Contemporary Anti-Colonial Self-Determination Claims and the Decolonisation of International Law.” Griffith Law Review 22, no. 1 (2013): 238–68. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10383441.2013.10854774.

Mahar, Alyson L. Virginie Cobigo, and Heather Stuart. “Conceptualizing Belonging.” Disability and Rehabilitation 35, no. 12 (June 2013): 1026–32. doi: https://doi.org/10.3109/09638288.2012.717584.

Marks, Susan. “Human Rights and the Bottom Billion.” European Human Rights Law Review, no. 1 (2009): 37–49.

Massey, Doreen. “Negotiating Disciplinary Boundaries.” Current Sociology 47, no. 4 (1996): 6.

Mickelson. “Taking Stock of TWAIL Histories’; Karin Mickelson, ‘Rhetoric and Rage: Third

World Voices in International Legal Discourse.” Wis. Int’l L. J., no. 16 (1997): 353.

Mora, Raúl Alberto. “Counter-Narrative.” Key Concepts in Intercultural Dialogue 36, 2014.

Nayar, Jayan. “Thinking Being-Otherwise: Returning the Anti-Colonial to Philosophy.” Beyond Law and Development : Resistance, Empowerment and Social Injustice, ed. Abdul Paliwala. NY: Routledge, 2022.

Okafor, Obiora Chinedu. “Critical Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL)

Parmar, Pooja. “TWAIL: An Epistemological Inquiry.” International Community Law Review 10, no. 4 (2008): 363–70.

Rajagopal, Balakrishnan. “Counter-Hegemonic International Law: Rethinking Human Rights and Development as a Third World Strategy.” Third World Quarterly 27, no. 5 (July 2006): 767–83. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/01436590600780078.

Roth, Brad R. “Governmental Illegitimacy and Neocolonialism: Response to Review by James Thuo Gathii.” Michigan Law Review 98, no. 6 (2000): 2056–65. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/1290273.

Seneviratne, S.S.M.W. and K.A.A.N. Thilakarathna. “Recognition of New States: An Analysis of Selected Case Studies from a Third World Approach to International Law (TWAIL).” Colombo, 2020.

Sylvester, Ogba Adejoh and Okpanachi Idoko Anthony. “Decolonization in Africa and Pan-Africanism.” Yönetim Bilimleri Dergisi 12, no. 23 (2014)

Theory, Methodology, or Both?.” International Community Law Review 10, no. 4 (2008): 371–78.

Thomas, Darryl C. “The Black Radical Tradition - Theory and Practice: Black Studies and the Scholarship of Cedric Robinson.” Race & Class 47, no. 2 (October 2005): 1–22. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0306396805058077.

Book and Book Chapters

Anghie, Antony. Imperialism, Sovereignty, and the Making of International Law. Cambridge Studies in International and Comparative Law. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Du Bois, W. E. B. and Jonathan Scott Holloway, The Souls of Black Folk. First Yale University Press edition (New Haven [Connecticut]: Yale University Press, 2015.

Gathii, James Thuo. War, Commerce, and International Law. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Mark Toufayan, Emmanuelle Jouannet, and Hélène Ruiz Fabri, eds., Droit International et Nouvelles Approches Sur Le Tiers-Monde: Entre Répétition et Renouveau (Société de législation comparée, 2013), 81. (Author’s translation)

Pahuja, Sundhya. Decolonising International Law: Development, Economic Growth and the Politics of Universality. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Rabaka, Reiland. Du Bois: A Critical Introduction. Key Contemporary Thinkers, Cambridge, UK; Medford, MA, USA: Polity Press, 2021.

Robinson, Cedric J. Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition. Chapel Hill, N.C: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

Jansen, Jan. “Politics of Remembrance, Colonialism and the Algerian War of Independence in France’, in A European Memory? Contested Histories and Politics of Remembrance, by Malgorzata Pakier and Bo Stråth.” Studies in Contemporary European History. New York: Berghahn Books, 2010.


Anghie, Antony. ‘Critical Pedagogy Symposium: Critical Thinking and Teaching as Common Sense – Random Reflections’ Opinio Juris (blog). Accessed 31 August 2020. http://opiniojuris.org/2020/08/31/critical-pedagogy-symposium-critical-thinking-and-teaching-as-common-sense-random-reflections/.

Attar, Mohsen al. “Subverting Racism in / through International Law Scholarship.” Opinio Juris (blog). Accessed 3 March 2021. http://opiniojuris.org/2021/03/03/subverting-racism-in-international-law-scholarship/.


CBS News. “Paul Bremer, Who Helped Run Iraq Occupation, Is Now a Ski Instructor.” News, CBS News. Accessed 7 March 2022. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/paul-bremer-who-helped-run-iraq-occupation-is-now-a-ski-instructor/.

Gabčikovo-Nagymaros Project (HungarylSlovakia). Judgment, ICJ Reports 1997. p. 7, Separate Opinion of Vice-President Weeramantry, p.88.

The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies was the latest to advertise for such a post (January 2022).